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Bethany Hamilton Raises the Bar at the Roxy Surf Festival

bethany hamilton

bruna schmitz Left: Bethany Hamiton's inspirational display of ripping in the quarterfinals landed her in the first WQS semi-final of her young career. Photo: ASP Robertson © Covered Images. Above: Brazilian charger Bruna Schmitz is into the semi-finals of the Roxy Surf Festival. Photo: ASP Robertson © Covered Images.


Bethany Hamilton Raises the Bar at the Roxy Surf Festival

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia (Friday Jan. 25, 2008) – Shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton, 17, (Kauai, HAW) proved she could match many of the world’s best, by reaching the Semifinals of the Roxy Surf Festival at Woolamai Beach, Phillip Island, today.

Competing in the 6-Star ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals), World Qualifying Series division, Hamilton - who lost her arm to a Tiger Shark off the Island of Kauai, Hawaii in 2003 - defeated yesterday’s top scorer Erica Hosseini (USA) in the Quarterfinals.

Her performance marked her career best result and one of the world’s most inspirational sporting achievements by a physically challenged athlete.

“I’m feeling so blessed right now,” Hamilton said. “I want to start off by giving Jesus all the glory because he’s the reason I can surf and mentally make it through every day.

“I’m so stoked with these results and my goal is to win the whole event so I’m just going to do my best.”

Struggling to find her position against an incoming tide, Hamilton waited until the last five minutes to pick off one of the bigger set waves, producing a spectacular combination of top to bottom surfing - scoring an 8.25 (out of a possible 10.00 ) and an a 6.00, eliminating Hosseini from the event.

“She blows my mind,” Contest Director and former 12 time ASP World Tour event winner Jodi Cooper said of Hamilton’s performance. “I don’t think a lot of people fathom the effort this young lady goes through to not only paddle out, but the technique it takes to stand up and then once she’s up, the balance and body rotation she demonstrates, to complete those big turns.”

ASP Women’s World Tour Manager Brooke Farris had similar sentiments, “To all the other surfers Bethany is just another competitor. She has overcome her challenge to become an equal and is a threat to the Women’s World Tour. Everyone wants to beat her now, just like they want to beat any other top surfer.”

Another inspirational performance came from 17-year-old ASP World Junior Champion Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW, AUS) whose precision surfing at this level of competition, has far from fizzled out.

The accomplished junior surfer has been nothing short of dynamite in the water this week and emerged as the day’s highest heat scorer, amassing scores of 8.00 and 9.80 to dispose of ASP World No. 13 Claire Bevilaqua (Perth, WA, AUS).

“There’s definitely more pressure when it comes to crunch time,” Fitzgibbons said of her Quarterfinal match-up. “Every time I go out there I challenge myself to chase down my highest score, and I am excited to be in the Semifinals.

Current World No. 8 Jessi Miley-Dyer (Bronte, NSW, AUS) stamped her authority over junior standout Paige Hareb (NZL) in their Quarterfinal match-up.

The experienced ASP World Tour campaigner seeking out the better of the set waves, connecting her rides all the way to the inside for two scores in the excellent category an 8.50 and an 8.00.

“Surfing on the World Tour for the last couple years, I’ve really worked out how to surf priority heats (man-on-man heats),” Miley-Dyer explained.

“Surfing against the younger girls who haven’t had to surf priority heats is definitely an advantage. I’ve had to surf this format against Layne Beachley (7X ASP World Champion) so I’d much rather surf against one of these kids.”

The last heat of the Quarterfinals saw big wave charger Bruna Schmitz (BRA) responsible for another of the day’s big upsets, narrowly advancing over former World Tour campaigner Laurina McGrath (Byron Bay, NSW, AUS) and eliminating her from the competition.

Top seed and World No. 4 Samantha Cornish (Burleigh Heads, NSW, AUS) suffered a shock eliminated from the competition earlier in the day, when she struggled to find her position against the strong current caused by the shifting tide

Tomorrow sees the stakes raised for the remaining four competitors, Miley- Dyer pitted against Fitzgibbons and Hamilton taking on Schmitz in the Semifinals.

The winner of the 6- Star WQS event will find themselves well on their way to securing an elite berth on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour.

The Roxy Surf Festival is held in association with the Victoria State Government “Play it Safe by the Water” and proudly supported by ASP Australasia, Surfing Victoria, Bass Coast Shire Council and Phillip Island Nature Park.

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